Nepal confirms ‘many deaths’ in Qatar as show says figure as high as 1,400

Nepal's Labor Ministry has confirmed many stadium deaths in Qatar. (AFP)
Updated 11 June 2019
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Nepal confirms ‘many deaths’ in Qatar as show says figure as high as 1,400

NEW DELHI: The Nepali government said there have been “many deaths” in Qatar, following a TV documentary claim that 1,400 workers have died while helping to build football stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

German broadcaster WDR’s investigative show, “Trapped in Qatar,” exposed the plight of workers who endured squalid living conditions and perilous building sites.

A spokesman for the Labor Ministry said he was unaware of the documentary but confirmed many Nepalis had died in the Gulf state.

“It is a fact that many Nepali workers have lost their lives in Qatar over the years,” Narayan Ragmi told Arab News. “I don’t have any information regarding the documentary right now, I am not in a situation to tell you how many people lost their lives in Qatar. But that many people lost their lives in Qatar, that is true. Since the time we started sending our laborers to Qatar some people have lost their lives. I am not sure whether it is 1,400 or 200 or 300. I must verify this number with the authorities directly concerned with the issue.”

Ragmi said there was a memorandum of understanding with Doha, as well as a bilateral agreement, when it came to Nepali laborers. Workers were briefed before leaving Nepal and went through a pre-departure orientation program, he added.

Accidents and poor living conditions were claiming around 110 lives every year, according to Nepali government figures. Bereaved families of dead workers told WDR they had received no compensation from Doha.

Janak Sapkota, a Katmandu-based journalist who has been reporting on labor migration from Nepal, said workers suffered terribly.

“Most of the international companies working in Qatar do not meet safety requirements and as a result many construction workers lose their lives through this gross negligence of proper safety,” he told Arab News. “The living conditions are also very bad, the salary is too low and also exploitative. A few years back the plight of Nepali migrant workers in Qatar was very bad but, after the matter was raised and debate took place around that, Qatari companies took steps to respect the rights of the workers, but they are still not sufficient.”

Barun Ghimire, a Nepal-based human rights activist and lawyer, said employers in Qatar had failed to create working conditions to safeguard the health of workers.

“There have been reports that many Nepali workers have died either in the construction of stadiums or something related to stadiums in Qatar. We tried to establish a case against employers, but they are difficult to investigate because of the chain brokers involved in recruiting the workers,” he told Arab News, referring to people or firms who organized recruitment.

He said up to 1,300 migrant workers departed Nepal on a daily basis for Gulf-based jobs, and that a substantial number went to Qatar. He added that several dead migrant workers were repatriated to Nepal every day.

“I have also found that there is no proper documentation for Nepali workers as a result it’s not easy to establish the culpability of the company. It is difficult to establish the accountability of the companies involved in the preparation of the FIFA World Cup. A lack of transparency in the recruitment process allows companies to escape litigation.”

A journalist who was posted in Qatar four years ago —  and did not wish to disclose his name — said there were other problems that needed addressing too. “Whether one agrees with the casualty figures of the German documentary or not, there have been cases of delayed payments to workers, a high number of heart attack cases, delayed medical responses and bad living conditions,” he told Arab News.

He said living conditions in migrant worker camps had improved and that this change might be because of international pressure. 


Unrivaled: India now 7-0 in World Cup games against Pakistan

Updated 17 June 2019
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Unrivaled: India now 7-0 in World Cup games against Pakistan

  • Conditions did not dampen the enthusiasm of a predominantly pro-India crowd 

MANCHESTER, UK: For such an intense rivalry, it is still a lopsided contest when India and Pakistan meet at the Cricket World Cup.

India extended their record to 7-0 against Pakistan at the World Cup with an 89-run victory in a rain-interrupted encounter Sunday that likely will remain the most-watched game of the six-week tournament.

India started ominously with Rohit Sharma scoring 140 from 113 deliveries and skipper Virat Kohli contributing 77 in a total of 336-5, a record for a One-Day International at Old Trafford.

Pakistan were always behind the run-rate required.

Fakhar Zaman (62) and Babar Azam (48) put on 104 for the second wicket but when both were dismissed by left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav within nine balls, Pakistan’s hopes faded with them.

When Hardik Pandya took wickets with consecutive deliveries in the 27th over, Pakistan were 129-5. And with a result in play because both teams had batted more than 20 overs, there was no chance of sharing points if rain prevented any more play. A delay after the 35th with Pakistan at 166-6 just prolonged the inevitable.

Pakistan were  set a revised target of 302 from 40 overs and the last five overs were a non-event with Pakistan finishing 212-6. India remained unbeaten in four games to start the tournament.

The conditions did not dampen the enthusiasm of a predominantly pro-India crowd that filled the 162-year-old venue to its 23,500 capacity. Seats were in excessively high demand, after all, with the International Cricket Council reporting more than 800,000 ticket applications for the game.

There is always extra significance when the nuclear-armed neighboring countries meet at ICC tournaments because India and Pakistan play cricket so infrequently in bilateral series.

This was no different, with a 1 billion-plus TV audience and an almost football-like atmosphere at the ground.

Kohli’s single to get off the mark was met by “Kohli-Kohli-Kohli” chants from the predominantly pro-India crowd.

Sharma set the tone with his second century of the tournament, sharing partnerships of 136 with KL Rahul (57) for the first wicket and 98 with Kohli for the second.

He seemed ready to really unleash when he needlessly paddled a ball from Hasan Ali to Wahab Riaz at short fine leg in the 38th over.

Kohli continued, becoming the third Indian batter to pass 11,000 ODI runs. In doing so in his 222nd innings, he became the fastest to reach the milestone.

Kohli was on 71 and India was 305-4 when rain stopped play for the first time in the 47th over. The India captain was caught behind off Mohammad Amir’s bowling not long after he returned from the 55-minute rain break and, surprisingly, walked off before umpire Marais Erasmus had a chance to signal him out.

There was some speculation Kohli did not edge the ball but it was inconsequential in the end, as India passed Sri Lanka’s 318-7 against England in 2006 to set the highest ODI total in Manchester.

After a batting onslaught at the top, Pakistan pegged back the run-rate slightly as Amir (3-47) dismissed Pandya (26) and then had MS Dhoni (1) and Kohli caught behind — both the ex-captain and captain walking.

Things started going haywire for Pakistan after skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed won the toss and fielded, going against the advice sent via social media by Prime Minister and 1992 World Cup-winning captain Imran Khan.

Overcast and cool overhead conditions that usually would favor swing and seam bowling didn’t greatly assist the Pakistan attack, with India racing to 52-0 in its most productive opening power play of the tournament.

The Pakistan pacemen had trouble with the umpires, with Amir and Wahab each cautioned twice for running on the protected area in the middle of the pitch. One further warning would have resulted in a suspension.

It also didn’t help that opener Imam-ul-Haq got out in rare circumstances to Vijay Shankar’s very first delivery at a World Cup — it coming on the fifth ball of Pakistan’s fifth over after Shankar was asked to finish it off for injured teammate Bhuveshwar Kumar.

Pakistan’s next game is at Lord’s against South Africa, which also has three points and only remote prospects of reaching the semifinals.